Nebraska plant to pay $45 million settlement centered around Muscatine factory
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — A judge has approved a class-action settlement between Muscatine residents and a local factory that they blame for a noxious odor and haze and for causing health problems.
District Judge John Telleen on Tuesday, February 5 approved the settlement over the Grain Processing Corporation plant, which makes corn-based products, The Muscatine Journal reported. The company agreed to pay $45 million to cover an estimated 14,000 claims and to spend $6.5 million on pollution controls at the Muscatine plant.
Residents sued the company in 2012, alleging that the plant was negligent with its emissions and the odor was a nuisance. The case later received class-action status.
GPC supports the settlement and believes it’s fair, said Joshua Frank, an attorney for the company. The company will continue to operate successfully in the area, he said.
The settlement is groundbreaking because of the duration of coverage, complexity and value, said Sarah Siskind, an attorney for the residents. People who lived within 1.5 miles of the plant between April 24, 2007, and Sept. 1, 2017, may qualify for payment.
Plaintiff Kelcey Brackett said he was happy with the settlement.
“I think, as the judge stated during the hearing, this was probably the most fair turn out of the case,” he said. “And I think what this does is secure a way for GPC and the community to work together.”
Brackett said he’s already seen improvements, noting that GPC invested $83 million in upgrades during the lawsuit.
“I know I’ve seen reduction of odors in the area,” he said, “and I want to see that continue.”
Residents have until March 19 to file a claim and could receive $2,000 to $16,000, depending on where they live.
Up to $2 million of any money remaining after the payouts will be placed into a community fund for neighborhood improvements, Frank said.